Watchers of the Idaho Legislature are reeling over the news that a panel of state lawmakers from both houses – not listed among the official legislative interim committees or task forces that have been holding open public meetings streamed live on the internet – has been meeting all summer to discuss tax policy and tax relief.
“It’s not an interim committee per se,” House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, said Friday. “It’s more of an ad-hoc working group.”
Bedke said the effort started when a group of legislative leaders went down to Utah in July to meet with lawmakers there who worked on a successful modified flat-tax bill close to a decade ago. He said the GOP leaders of both houses, the minority leaders of both houses, and the tax committee chairs from both houses all were invited, though the minority leaders didn’t go.
They did, however, attend two subsequent joint leadership meetings on the issue. Then, Bedke said, “We’ve passed that off now to the chairs of the two (tax) committees, and they put together … an ad hoc group.” That joint committee, which includes other legislators, has held one meeting, for which it posted a paper notice in the state Capitol, Bedke said, but there was no other public notice.
Among criticism the move drew on Friday: A Lewiston Tribune editorial said lawmakers have been “foiling any pesky citizen who would like to attend one of these sessions,” and Idaho Freedom Foundation President Wayne Hoffman dubbed the group “the super secret committee dealing with the income tax.” You can read my full Sunday column here at spokesman.com.